Spring Statement is ‘good news’ for operators

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The Freight Transport Association has welcomed the Government’s ambitions for infrastructure and transport, as expressed by the Chancellor Philip Hammond in last month’s Spring Statement.

Head of UK Policy Christopher Snelling said the plans were a welcome boost for a logistics sector under pressure to deliver in testing trading conditions.

“With rising inflation and Brexit uncertainties placing a strain on logistics operators, the measures announced are an encouraging boost to the sector,” he said.  “Any improvements to infrastructure will support the work of our members in ensuring that Britain keeps trading, and we look forward to learning more from the Government about how its plans can become reality.

“On paper, the Spring Statement has plenty of good news for logistics operators.  The continuing funds for investment in infrastructure are good news, but we are looking forward to hearing the government’s plans for future spending, to ensure that efficient, effective transport networks can be maintained and improved nationwide to benefit industry and the consumer.”

The industry will also be interested but concerned about the Chancellor’s intention to “help the great British white van driver go green”.

Christopher Snelling said:  “The announcement of a consultation on taxation rates for the least polluting vans is an encouraging move, but must not penalise those whose businesses rely on the vehicles they own.  Changing vehicles is a long-term business plan, not something which can be implemented overnight.  The Government needs to provide clear guidance for operators on how the changes can be made, with minimal impact on business planning processes and overheads, to ensure logistics companies can continue to offer a competitive, effective service to customers.”

The announcement of a bidding process for a share of £840 million to deliver local transport priorities is a step which does not go far enough to addressing the problems across the road network which need urgent attention, he added:  “The local road network is suffering from years of underinvestment, and while the announcement of this bidding process will solve some infrastructure problems, it is disappointing that this fund may not be sufficient to conduct repairs nationwide.  Local governments estimate that it costs an average of £53 per pothole to effect efficient repairs, and following the recent cold weather and ongoing lack of investment, it is clear this fund will be insufficient to meet the needs of the ailing road network.

“To ensure Britain can keep trading effectively both at home and abroad, a comprehensive programme of road repairs which brings surfaces back to condition is vital if goods are to continue to move freely and efficiently.”